Should You Try Holistic Dog Food?

Photo: fotyma/Getty Images

Holistic is a buzzword in human wellness circles and, like many people-food trends (see: ancient grains), it’s made its way to dog dishes.

But, as is often the case with human-to-dog diet trends, the benefits are anecdotal at best. But Dr. Angie Kraus from I and love and you has had plenty of clients asking about it, and she gave us a primer on what holistic food is, what to look for when choosing a brand and some of her pup clients’ favorites.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Clean Eating for Dogs

Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

What is holistic dog food?

Holistic dog food companies have an informed, ingredient-conscious consumer top-of-mind philosophy. “I would consider holistic pet food being pet food where the company is sensitive to the way the ingredient tag looks, meaning they aren’t using toxic preservatives, corn or wheat,” Dr. Kraus says. “They are following the diet trends and what people are looking for in their own diets.”

They likely don’t use by-products, which Dr.  Kraus admits are probably just as good as what’s in holistic food, but a customer looking for this type of diet for their dog usually prefers their pup’s meals don’t include them.

Signs a holistic food might be right for your dog

Though many dogs do fine on traditional dog food, some do have issues. “I see more food allergies, so chronic ear infections or chronic diarrhea, itchy skin,” Dr. Kraus says. “There’s a chance the dog is allergic to something, like wheat or corn, and a holistic brand might be worth it.”

Photo: Chalabala/Getty Images

What to look for in a holistic dog food

The most important thing to look for on any dog food is the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) label. This means it meets industry health standards. But pet parents need to look beyond the packaging to get the full picture of what’s in the dog food and contact the company. Ask who helps formulate the food and if a veterinarian or animal nutritionist consulting is involved. “Anyone can throw together a recipe and put it out there, but it doesn’t mean it’s formulated very well,” Dr. Kraus says. “See who is formulating it and what kind of quality control you have on each batch to know there’s not too much Vitamin D and every batch is balanced.”

How to transition to holistic dog food

Some pups can go cold turkey, but Dr. Kraus says the safest way to transition is over two weeks. “Do 75 percent old food, 25 percent new food and then slowly transition over time,” she says. Look for any red flags, like vomiting, lethargy or diarrhea — they may be signs your pup isn’t taking well to the food. And of course, before making any changes speak to your vet.

Top photograph: fotyma/Getty Images

Read Next: What Vegetables Can Dogs Eat?

12 thoughts on “Should You Try Holistic Dog Food?”

  1. There are some interesting cut-off dates on this article but I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There is some validity but I will take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want more! Added to FeedBurner as properly

  2. Yes, Your information is correct. Holistic dog food gives amazing results if you feed them long periods and proper diet. I also prefer for my pet for the last 7 years and purchase from here at affordable prices. This kind of food easy to digest and gives shiny shades and makes them healthy.

  3. Sandra J Baker

    I use a Holistic Dog food for my 5 Pomeranians. They have been on this food for several years and LOVE it. Their coat are wonderful and over all health very good. A Holistic Dog food uses human grade foods. I sure wouldn’t want anything less for my kids. Would you?

  4. Can anyone give a heads -up on a diet for a dog with pancreatitis? There must be a holistic
    diet that can help get them through flare-ups as it is painful to watch them and to try to get
    them to eat something

    1. There are a couple canine pancreatitis groups on facebook that have tons of info about this. I had a pancreatic dog and without those groups she would not have lived as long as sadly the vets just have one answer (prescription food) and my dog wouldn’t eat it. You need to find something low fat on a dry matter basis and the groups have all the info on how to calculate this and lists of foods that qualify. Always recheck labels and percentages yourself because manufacturers can and do change ingredients and amounts. Good luck!!

    2. Hi Abigail,

      My Yorkie had pancreatitis, the vet recommended low fat diet…so I cooked skinless chicken breast in water, veggies like sweet potatoe, carrots, green beans, broccoli and cauliflower, dont overdo the veggies like broccoli and cauliflower as it can make them produce too much gas and it is very uncomfortable for them… I portioned it out to his requirements for age and size. he also loved a little portion of apple and pear, and lactose free cottage cheese and yogurt but not too much, he drank only filtered water and all his food was organic .. and fed him this for the next 3 years until unfortunately he had heart failure, he died aged 16yrs, so he did live quite a long life to be honest….he was a true soldier and he never gave up ….In the beginning of his life (he was not my dog all of the years) up until I met him he had been fed on nasty food like Pedigree Chum, Blue Buffalo, and McDonalds now and then, the poor thing, so it is possible that this could have contributed to his health problems….he also used to steal the kitty kibble, so if you have cats make sure he can’t get to their food as cat food is high in fats. I hope this little bit of info helps, Good Luck to you both for a healthy happy life together….take care in what you feed him make sure he gets exercise and hopefully you will have many years of love and happiness together. xxx

  5. We recently transitioned our dog to start trying holistic dog food. He was quick to adapt to the different type of food, and I love it! So much healthier and he loves it!

    1. Emily Rose Smith

      I love puppies &dogs thay are cute &fun &they love you back they don’t give up on yo u thay are no bad dogs olay bad ownrs thay be good to you ?????????

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